Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Doctor Sleep

by Stephen King
527 pgs

I'll admit to being a little nervous about reading Doctor Sleep. Not because it might be scary, but because it's the sequel to The Shining, and as such, inevitably leads to the comparison between the two. I was worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations and that it would somehow remove its predecessor from the pedestal it's been placed on by myself and most King readers. Now, having finished it, comparing the two books is surprisingly difficult. They're so separate and distinct from each other, both in style and in the overall story's timeline, that comparing the two almost seems like a moot point.

King quickly gets you up to speed on what's happened in Dan (Danny) Torrence's life since the end of The Shining. He grew up and inherited his father's alcoholism, his mother Wendy passed away, and he's been drifting about nearing rock bottom for years. While he's been trying to overcome the demons his shining and his experiences at The Overlook have given him, a girl, whose ability to shine makes Dan's seem weak by comparison, is born in New England. Abra's "gifts" are alarming to her parents, but more significantly, they make her a target to the True Knot, a group of seemingly innocent RVers who continually roam from one part of the country to another country. They appear to outsiders to be middle-aged vacationers, but if they stayed in one place for long, others would notice that they age rapidly but then have the ability to rejuvenate. Their rejuvenating ability comes from torturing and killing those who shine and it's what has kept them alive for over a century.

As Abra grows up, her ability to shine links her to Dan and the two form a relationship that brings them together, once again giving Dan a purpose and possibly a way to rid himself of his demons once and for all.

It's very obvious, even early on in the book, that King has changed a lot as a writer in between writing these two books. His views of what's scary have evolved as well. The Shining is the type of book that strikes a chord with the fears that we all experienced growing up: ghosts, haunted houses, and the possibility that some adults might want to hurt us. While Doctor Sleep targets the types of fears we don't experience until adulthood. Both books are excellent, but in their own rights and not by their association with each other.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

No comments:

Post a Comment